The Nick Townsend Column: Here comes the judge: Jose just can't resist straying into hostile territory

Could Mourinho achieve the same without gracelessness?
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With its self-appointed prosecutor and hanging judge, the world of Jose Mourinho is not a comfortable one to inhabit. It is far from a liberal democracy that encourages debate. Democracy doesn't appeal much to him. Under his dictatorship, you concur with him or you are worthy only of contempt.

By Wednesday, in the course of four days he had had passed judgement on a rival club's player and questioned their handling of his injured goalkeeper Petr Cech; he had challenged the efficiency of a county's ambulance service; and even provoked rumblings in the House of Commons. Those concerned had been found guilty. And no appeal.

Yet, for as much as the resistance movement attempt to counter his words and consequently diminish his powers, there can be no doubting the man's stature when Mourinho returns to his authentic field of expertise. On Wednesday, with sundry football failings put to right (at least in his own mind), his team - imbued with power, belief and tactical nous - dispatched Barcelona in a manner which was heavily invested with his influence. In essence, Chelsea were a side properly managed. The Football Association might take note, next time they hire an England coach, of the qualities required.

But constantly the thought presents itself: could he achieve the same without displaying a singular lack of grace and magnanimity? Could he welcome triumph without displaying that curious phenomenon, the bad winner? One suspects not. It is akin to the child who is indulged, discovers he can get away with naughtiness, and thenstamps his foot whenever things irk him. There is no one willing to counsel Mourinho; no one to offer a cautionary word.

The Chelsea Plc chairman, Bruce Buck, for instance, comes across as a decent, intelligent individual; yet he presumably concurred with the nonsense that appeared on behalf of the club on Monday, supporting Mourinho's accusation against Reading's Stephen Hunt, whose collision with Cech resulted in the keeper fracturing his skull.

In truth, Mourinho's emotional outburst on Saturday night could be understood, if not condoned. It was an appalling injury, and Chelsea were suddenly deprived of two goalkeepers. An active volcano is always liable to spit lava, and there was a kind of inevitability that he would do so in such circumstances. Someone suggested he was being paranoid, and he mockingly agreed. That was not, though, too distant from the truth.

But by the next day it all required someone to quell the indignation in his breast; someone who should have whispered in his ear words borrowed from Millicent Martin's theme song from the BBC's satirical show of the Sixties: "That was the weekend that was. It's over. Let it go".

Mourinho was unable to do so, though he surely must have known that his complaints about Hunt would be rejected by the FA - as they were. But why did he then stray into decidedly hostile territory, querying the efforts of Reading's backroom staff and medical people, those unsung characters without whom matches could not be played? It was sheer folly. Chelsea may have cause for grievance, though it appears unlikely. If they have, it is a matter for the club to take up with the Premier League and the FA.

Instead the manager was allowed to press charges, this character who has never been mindful of possible repercussions. The incident involving Frank Rijkaard at the Nou Camp, when he made accusations regarding Barcelona's coach and what Mourinho perceived to be his liaison with referee Anders Frisk, is still readily recalled. Mourinho remains unrepentant. The club backed him then. No doubt he will be similarly obdur-ate on the various areas of his dis- pleasure at the Madejski Stadium.

Increasingly, there is a feeling that the club are fearful of curbing Mourinho's power, almost as if it might break the spell. While they remain on target for a Premiership-Champions' League double, Chelsea do not need to be popular; to be regarded as crowd-pleasers; to be considered good sports. Pragmatism rules, and the more you witness Chelsea, and their body language, including that muscle-rippling ritual of shedding shirts at the conclusion of certain matches, the more one senses a "no one likes us; we don't care" attitude from a club who have developed into a rich man's Millwall.

And it all emanates from the tribal leader, who despite his raging inconsistency in character, continues to induce faith in his ideas and to instil greatness in those over whom there have been doubts. Didier Drogba is a man who has rediscovered himself; Michael Essien is a player revitalised after the World Cup. When Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack arrived, both were deemed to have no significant future at Chelsea.

For all his own imperfections, from the touchline Mourinho demands incisive thinking from his men as much as he detests impetuosity. He is a fascinating figure to scrutinise from close proximity. On one occasion against Barça, Essien tumbled near to Mourinho. The Portuguese assisted him to his feet, and, as he did so, circled first finger and thumb in a gesture of approval. Next minute, he was wagging a warning finger at the Ghanaian after Deco had felled him, cautioning him not to react.

Then, when Henrique Hilario went for a swift clearance, Mourinho stood and, like a conductor, exhorted the No 3 goalkeeper with a dramatic wave of the arms not to rush, before summoning him to clear. There was also a lengthy dialogue between Mourinho and Shevchenko, who constantly appears poised to produce upmarket finishing, worthy of £30m, but still serves to frustrate.

Yes, there can be demonstrations of annoyance, like the Chelsea manager's beating of the ground when Shevchenko spurned a decent opportunity. But essentially Mourinho believes in encouragement and calmness, even when it is apparent that certain components - Shevchenko and Ballack - are not working at their optimum.

In the majority of Premiership games, Chelsea's pure football can overpower the opposition. Mourinho knew that more caution would be necessary here. He deployed his team to negate the power bases of the visitors and it was an effective strategy. In the event, Hilario had the last laugh over those who doubted him. A rather more competent stand-in than the stand-up comedian he had been depicted.

A draw would have sufficed, but Drogba's sublime goal produced a reward Mourinho would have coveted profoundly - particularly with his nemesis Rijkaard only feet away. Once Chelsea had scratched beneath the oils of the canvas the Dutchman had worked on following Barça's Champions' League triumph last May, they found it illusory and of little substance; no matter the input of Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho. It was wiped away by a second-half examination in which the full-back Khalid Boulahrouz demonstrated himself Chelsea's most astute summer signing in his handling of Ronaldinho.

It had been the week in which we witnessed the two faces of Jose Mourinho. Both had plenty to say, in press conferences and on the touchline. One provoked ridicule. One garnered renewed respect. Perhaps he should allow his footballers to do the talking for him.